|The case of a River-side County bankruptcy attorney facing 50 discipline
counts is in limbo, abated by the State Bar Court. A San Jose lawyer who prosecutors say
deserves disbarment has only to take the professional responsibility examination and serve
out a short suspension for his license to be reactivated.
The husband of an attorney who
died suddenly has nowhere to turn for help in closing down her practice.
These are a few of the early returns on the virtual shutdown of the State Bar's
Since the end of April, when the consumer complaint phone line was disconnected in
anticipation of widespread layoffs, the bar has received 2,097 written complaints about
attorneys. Not one has been investigated.
Another 2,800-plus investigations which were under way were halted. Of the nearly 800
matters filed before the State Bar Court, ready to be litigated, only 40 are proceeding to
trial before the end of the year.
"The State Bar shutting down has left this huge void," says JoAnne Robbins, a
former bar court judge who now defends attorneys facing discipline charges. "It's
possible these cases could stay in suspended animation virtually forever."
Adds Arthur Margolis, another defense attorney who practices before the bar, "It's
really a paralyzed system and the public is deprived of protection. It's a scandal that
has not penetrated the consciousness of the press or the public in general."
The discipline system was the largest and most expensive oper-ation within the State
Bar. The prosecutor's office employed 283 lawyers, investigators and support staff, and
the State Bar